Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In defence of Guido

I'm sure that there are plenty more oars that can be stuck into the discussion of Guido's appearance on Snoozenight, and (related) Oliver Kamm's blast at political bloggers.

There was bits to agree with - by the way - in Kamm's rather odd article. I particularly liked this:
"...Such is the ideological chaos of modern Conservatism. Osborne invoked the notion of the wisdom of crowds: knowledge emerges in a collaborative process rather than being dictated by experts. But political bloggers are not the required type of crowd. They are, by definition, a self-selecting group of the politically motivated who have time on their hands. In his speech, Osborne commended the work of Conservative-supporting bloggers. The notion that a political party becomes credible by being responsive to its activists is an error that Labour disastrously adopted in the 1980s."
... mainly because it's a common theme here. But there were also the obvious non sequiturs, and I can't see much to disagree with in Norm's review of it.

However, we are left with the question of Guido. I suspect that I'm the only left-leaning blogger who'd defend Guido at the moment. Here's why.

A while ago, DSquared fingered Guido as the slightly unacceptable face of negativism - it was a fine distinction - one that was way too fine for my tiny brain. And, in the comments, Guido liked it anyway. Personally, I can only see one distinction between the Tim Ireland / DSquared / Chicken Yoghurt side and Guido. In Tim / CY / DSquared's case, they make some criticisms that I agree with, and some that I don't. But I have no idea what they stand for at all.

Guido doesn't engage in debate at all. Not for him the ivory tower of 'I can criticise but I have no obligation to set out my own position.' Guido is a pure, conscious, instrumental negativist, and you can't help admiring his clarity of purpose.

He is, of course, a political enemy in every way. He is of the type of libertarian conservative that would like to see politics largely abolished. He has no interest in promoting reasonable discussion - quite the reverse. When others discuss the finer points of policy, Guido hears "blah blah blah." He calls things the way he hears them, and he finds a receptive audience on all sides of the political divide.

When I spoke to him a while ago, he told me that Hong Kong is the nearest political model to the one that he would like to see here. For Guido, negativism is a conscious political weapon. It's one that he uses very effectively because he has a positive aim - a model that he is prepared to promote.

OK. Don't get me wrong - I'm not aiming to overestimate him here - I'm sure that he didn't lie awake one night hatching a dastardly plot to undermine democracy. But he has led where his nose has followed him, and - fair play to him - he's had a lot more success in promoting his own brand of politics than any other blogger that I can think of.

Guido has seen the main chance and taken it. And he's done so because he has recognised that the removal of all barriers to entry into political debate will inevitably suck in a huge number of commenters who honour Matt_C's maxim (in the comments here) that "the philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to complain about it."

This includes the political negativists that make up a large slice of the high-profile political blogosphere. There's Guido, and there's Guido's er... (how can I put this as un-pejoratively as possible?) .. useful idiots. His objective allies.

And even if he did have his bottom served up to him on a plate by Michael White a few weeks ago, I couldn't help thinking that White - the purveyor of tedious Kremlinology par excellence - was simply pulling up the ladder that he used himself.



Guido is only one step up from much of the paid commentariat. He is what they see when they look in the mirror, and this will continue to be the case until this whole thing shakes out.

Personally, I'm fairly relaxed about this. I hope that - at some point - the pendulum will swing. I hope that the MSM will stop fetishising comment altogether and start paying for reporters again. I suspect that they will, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

In the meantime, which side are you on? Are you one of Guido's objective allies? Or do you have a position that you'd be prepared to advance and defend?

Oh look! A code of conduct!

1 comment:

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

I don't remember revealing the secret masterplan to you, but essentially you get it.

My blog is an anti-politics blog. I want to see a culture where more space is de-politicised, where there is radically smaller governmental sphere of influence.

Oh, and I want to have a laugh on the way.

Sometimes the court jester was not only cleverer than the King's wise counsel, but more influential.